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Center for Mind, Brain and Culture

Emory College, Emory Center for Mind, Brain and Culture (CMBC)

The mission of Emory's Center for Mind, Brain and Culture (CMBC) is to foster inquiry, research, and teaching from multiple explanatory perspectives concerning issues and phenomena associated with mind, brain, and culture and their relations. Such interdisciplinary exchange will (1) inform faculty and student research, (2) contribute to curricula, and (3) lead to a wide variety of research projects that develop, explore, compare, and, when possible, integrate explanations from multiple analytical levels.

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Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Dec 1, 2017 Segundo Mesa-Castillo (Psychiatric Hospital of Havana / National Center for Scientific Research Schizophrenia Research Group)
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Dr. Mesa-Castillo has been conducting research on schizophrenia for more than 33 years in Cuba, the United States, Spain, Brazil, Venezuela, and Ethiopia. He will provide an overview of his research, which provided the first direct evidence of virus infection in the central nervous system in schizophrenia [Journal of Microbiology Review, 1995] and also advanced the application of electro-microscopy to the study of serious mental illness. Dr. Mesa-Castillo's presentation will address the role of...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Nov 15, 2017 Arnon Lotem
(Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University)
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A fundamental and frequently overlooked aspect of animal learning is its reliance on compatibility between the learning rules used and the attentional and motivational mechanisms directing them to process the relevant data (called here data-acquisition mechanisms). We propose that this coordinated action, which may first appear fragile and error prone, is in fact extremely powerful, and critical for understanding cognitive evolution. Using basic examples from imprinting and associative...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Oct 27, 2017 Barry Hewlett (Department of Anthropology, Washington State University)
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This talk examines evolutionary, developmental psychology and social-cultural anthropology debates regarding how children learn from others. Cognitive psychologists and evolutionary biologists indicate that teaching, accurate imitation, and language are distinct features of human cognition that enable high fidelity transmission of cultural variants and cumulative culture. The talk examines whether or not one type of teaching, called natural pedagogy, and one type of accurate imitation, called...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Oct 27, 2017 Susan Gelman (Department of Psychology, University of Michigan)
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One of the most challenging aspects of learning is theory-change -- abandoning an old explanatory framework for a new one.  When is theory change possible, and when do intuitive theories persist alongside those that are taught in school? How do children's intuitive theories distort the lessons from school?  And what are the (implicit) mechanisms that work to foster or suppress children's intuitive theories? I examine these questions by focusing on two conceptual biases (essentialism and...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Oct 27, 2017 Cassidy Puckett (Department of Sociology, Emory University)
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A central and consequential feature of technological competence in the digital age is the ability to learn new technologies as they emerge--what I call "digital adaptability." Macro-level research suggests differences in digital adaptability are related to various forms of inequality. However, research has not yet been able to link macro-level trends to micro-level processes, made difficult without a direct measure of adaptability. My research addresses this gap by defining and...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Oct 27, 2017 Susan Gelman, Jason Yeatman, Cassidy Puckett, and Barry Hewlett
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Our ability to teach and learn from each other is a foundational aspect of human nature. It has underpinned the remarkable evolutionary success of our species and remains critical to the fortunes and prospects of modern societies. This CMBC Symposium brings together perspectives from ethnography, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and the sociology of education for a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary investigation of what we have learned about the many ways in which we learn....
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Oct 27, 2017 Jason Yeatman (Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington)
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The brain did not evolve specialized circuits for reading. Rather, the process of learning to read induces changes in the underlying structure and function of the brain that support this fundamental academic skill. In other words, education scaffolds the development of the brain's reading circuitry. In this talk, I will first outline the neurobiological underpinnings of literacy and give an overview of how the brain converts symbols on a page to sound and meaning. Then I will present new data...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Oct 19, 2017 Robyn Fivush (Department of Psychology, Emory University) and Jennifer Mascaro (Department of Family and Preventative Medicine, Emory University)
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This collaborative discussion focuses on the complex question: How and why do parents interact differently with sons and daughters? We approach these questions with the assumption that gender differences in parenting are expressed and performed in everyday interactions between parents and children and shape how children come to understand what it means to be "male" or "female" in their culture. Dr. Fivush will share insights from her research on the social construction of...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Jul 3, 2017 Ara Norenzayan, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia
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Are non-clinical populations high on the autistic spectrum less likely to "get" religion? Building on the first talk, I ask whether autism increases the odds of disbelief, as has been predicted by some cognitive theories of religious belief. Probing further, I ask whether this link is statistically explained by the selective deficits in theory of mind associated with the autistic spectrum. Next I explore whether gender differences in autism and theory of mind offer a novel, if...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Jun 19, 2017 Gordon Ramsay, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University
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Recent attempts to use findings in neuroscience to inform our understanding of religious experience have focused on explaining the origins of religious activity and belief as potential byproducts of neural structures that evolved for, and were exapted from, other biological functions. Brain mechanisms implicated in attributing agency, detecting intentions, social reward, pro-social adaptation, and other aspects of social cognition have variously been proposed as potential pathways leading to...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Jun 16, 2017 Ara Norenzayan, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia
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For a given person to believe in a deity or deities, she must (a) be able to form intuitive mental representations of supernatural agents; (b) be motivated to commit to supernatural agents (and related rituals) as real and relevant sources of meaning and control; and (c) have received specific cultural inputs that, of all the supernatural agents or forces one could possibly think of, one or more specific deities should be believed in and committed to. In this talk, I present these interrelated...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
May 5, 2017 Robert McCauley, Professor of Philosophy, Emory University
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The cognitive science of religion (CSR) illuminates similar features of experience that arise in religious settings and that are associated with some mental disorders. We endorse explanatory pluralism, the view that cross-scientific investigations are enriched by integrating theory, methods, and evidence from multiple analytical levels, and ecumenical naturalism, which holds that: (1) examining features of experiences in different mental disorders and similar features of religious experiences...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 28, 2017 Tiffany Yip, Department of Psychology, Fordham University
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The negative academic and health effects of ethnic/racial discrimination are robust and pervasive. Taking a biopsychosocial approach, the current study combines actigraphy with a daily diary design to explore sleep duration and quality as an explanatory link between discrimination and outcomes. In a sample of 189 ethnic/racially diverse 9th grade adolescents, the study first assessed the daily impact of discrimination on next-day academic engagement and mood. Second, the study explored sleep as...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 24, 2017 Eric Smadja, Paris, France
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As a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and anthropologist, I will review and discuss the discourse on laughter. Traditionally, this discourse seems to summon to mind three principal characteristics of laughter: its specifically human nature, its structural relationship to the joy and pleasure procured by what is laughable, making laughter an indicator of “good health,” and its automatic, reflexive aspect. Unfortunately, it seems to obscure two fundamental aspects of laughter: its historicity and...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 4, 2017 Shobhana Chelliah, Department of Linguistics, University of North Texas
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Language Documentation is a reborn, refashioned, and reenergized subfield of linguistics motivated by the urgent task of creating a record of the world’s fast disappearing languages. In addition to producing resources for communities interested in language and culture preservation, maintenance, and revitalization, language documentation continues to produce data that challenge and improve linguistic theory. A case in point is a pattern of participant marking, i.e. ways that speakers indicate...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Mar 23, 2017 Charles Nunn, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology and Global Health Institute, Duke University
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Scientists have made substantial progress in understanding the evolution of mammalian sleep, yet the evolution of human sleep has been largely ignored in comparative studies. This omission is surprising given the extraordinary mental capacity and behavioral flexibility of humans, and the importance of sleep for human cognitive performance. I will discuss new phylogenetic methods that enable rigorous investigation of sleep along a single evolutionary lineage, and will apply these methods to...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Mar 9, 2017 Azim Shariff, Department of Psychology, University of California, Irvine
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Why do today's religions look and function the way they do? Presenting research primarily on religion’s effects on prosocial behavior and prejudice toward outgroups, I will argue that the form and function of modern religions can be understood as the legacy of a millennia-long process of cultural evolution. Our recent research has begun to empirically test perennially debated questions about whether religions make people act more ethically, what functions religions have served, and why some...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Mar 9, 2017 Kerry Marsh, Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut
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This talk discusses the wide-ranging potential of immersive virtual reality (IVR) as a research tool in the behavioral sciences. The speaker will discuss her research using IVR to study mundane judgments of the built environment, her emergency evacuation IVR work conducted with engineers and disaster experts, and her social-health work studying HIV risk behavior in highly interactive dating scenarios with virtual dating partners.
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Mar 7, 2017 Joseph Neisser, Department of Philosophy, Grinnell College
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A chief stumbling block for a science of consciousness has always been that there are so few ways to measure consciousness. Recent developments in clinical neuroscience suggest a promising new start on this problem, and raise new empirical issues. The progress may also carry some surprising philosophical implications for realists about consciousness.
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Feb 9, 2017 Donald Tuten, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and Alena Esposito, Department of Psychology, Emory University
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Alena Esposito and Donald Tuten discuss different aspects of research on bilingualism. Dr. Esposito focuses on recent cognitive and neuroscientific research on bilingualism, while Dr. Tuten focuses on fundamental questions in social and cultural approaches to research on bilingualism. Both presenters touch on and consider the implications of these approaches on education and educational approaches to research on bilingualism.
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Jan 12, 2017 Ilina Singh, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford
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In June 2016, a small group of world-leading neuroscientists, ethicists, social scientists and clinical researchers came together with two goals: to initiate a global research consortium in neuroscience ethics; and to come up with a research agenda for that consortium. Were the goals met? Yes and no. In this talk I identify some of the key clashes, the strange alliances, and the isolation tactics that collectively enabled the consortium to establish an identity and a mission, at a cost. I will...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Jan 12, 2017 Sarah Brosnan, Department of Psychology, Georgia State University
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Humans routinely confront situations that require coordination between individuals, from mundane activities such as planning where to go for dinner to incredibly complicated activities, such as multi-national agreements. How did this ability arise, and what prevents success in those situations in which it breaks down? To understand how this capability evolved across the primates, my lab uses the methodology of experimental economics. This is an ideal mechanism for the comparative approach as it...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Jan 12, 2017 Laura Namy, Department of Psychology, Emory University; Victoria Powers, Department of Math and Computer Science, Emory University
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Recent NSF Program Directors Laura Namy and Victoria Powers discuss current funding opportunities from the National Science Foundation and secrets to a successful application.
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Jan 12, 2017 Alan Abramowitz, Department of Political Science, Emory University; Scott Lilienfeld, Department of Psychology, Emory University
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What personality traits make for successful politicians? What contributes to political partisanship? In this heated election season, come join Dr. Alan Abramowitz (Political Science) and Dr. Scott Lilienfeld (Psychology) for a conversation about the factors influencing presidential elections from the standpoint of both voters and candidates. Dr. Abramowitz will discuss the growing political partisanship of the American electorate, and its potential sociological and political sources. Dr....
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Jan 12, 2017 David C. Wilson, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware
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Why does race serve as the most polarizing feature of American politics? Presumably, Americans have a stake in proclaiming America’s greatness, particularly touting pride in democratic governance, protecting civil rights and liberties, and making progress in areas that serve as ugly scars in its history. Yet research suggests the effects of racial bias now surpass the typical partisan and ideological predispositions that drive political decision making and judgments. This phenomenon is...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Jan 12, 2017 Anne Cleary, Department of Psychology, Colorado State University
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In my lab, we recently discovered a new type of cognitive bias brought on by the presence of a tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) state for a currently inaccessible word. When in a TOT state, participants think it more likely that a currently unretrievable word was presented in a darker, clearer font upon last seeing it, a larger font upon last seeing it, that it is of higher frequency in the language, and that it starts with a more common first letter in the language. This pattern suggests that TOT...
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Apr 27, 2016 Aniruddh D. Patel, Department of Psychology, Tufts University
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Music is ancient and universal in human cultures. In The Descent of Man, Darwin theorized that musical rhythmic processing tapped into ancient and widespread aspects of animal brain function. While appealing, this idea is being challenged by modern cross-species and neurobiological research. In this talk I will describe research supporting the hypothesis that musical beat processing has its origin in another rare biological trait shared by humans and just a few other groups of animals (none of...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 27, 2016 Elliott Sober, Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin
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Many scientists believe that the search for simple theories is not optional; rather, it is a requirement of the scientific enterprise. When theories get too complex, scientists reach for Ockham’s razor, the principle of parsimony, to do the trimming. This principle says that a theory that postulates fewer entities, processes, or causes is better than a theory that postulates more, so long as the simpler theory is compatible with what we observe. Ockham’s razor presents a puzzle. It is...
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Apr 27, 2016 Kenneth (Bill) Fulford, University of Warwick, Center for Neuroethics, University of Oxford
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The widely held belief that the diagnosis of mental disorder is a matter exclusively for value-free science has been much reinforced by recent dramatic advances in the neurosciences. In this lecture, I will use a detailed case study of delusion and spiritual experience to indicate to the contrary that values come into the diagnosis of mental disorders directly through the language of the diagnostic criteria adopted in such scientifically–grounded classifications as the American Psychiatric...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 27, 2016 John Hawks, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison
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Hominin remains were discovered in October, 2013 within the Rising Star cave system, inside the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, South Africa. Lee Berger and the University of the Witwatersrand organized excavations with a skilled team of archaeologists and support of local cavers, which have to date uncovered 1550 hominin skeletal specimens. The hominin remains represent a minimum of 15 individuals of a previously undiscovered hominin species, which we have named Homo naledi. Aside...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 27, 2016 Jenefer Robinson, Department of Philosophy, University of Cincinnati
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Broadly speaking, empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another” (Iacoboni). More narrowly, an emotion is usually deemed empathic only when “the agent is aware that it is caused by the perceived, imagined, or inferred plight of another, or it expresses concern for the welfare of another” (Maibom). In the broad sense, the tender reciprocal relationship that develops between mother and infant when the mother sings to the baby and the baby responds is a species of...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 27, 2016 Patrick Colm Hogan, Department of English, University of Connecticut
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In this talk, drawn from his book, Beauty and Sublimity: A Cognitive Aesthetics of Literature and the Arts (Cambridge University Press, 2016), Hogan outlines an account of aesthetic response that synthesizes the insights of cognitive neuroscience with those implicit in Virginia Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway. Hogan begins by briefly outlining an explanation of beauty based on human information processing (specifically, pattern isolation and prototype approximation). He goes on to consider...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Feb 16, 2016 Frans de Waal, Department of Psychology
, Living Links Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, 
Emory University
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Emotions suffuse much of the language employed by students of animal behavior --from "social bonding" to "alarm calls" -- yet are often avoided as explicit topic in scientific discourse. Given the increasing interest of human psychology in the emotions, and the neuroscience on animal emotions such as fear and attachment, the taboo that has hampered animal research in this area is outdated. We need to recall the history of our field in which emotions and instincts were...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Feb 16, 2016 Jocelyne Bachevalier, Department of Psychology, 
Yerkes National Primate Research Center
, Emory University
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Regulation of emotion is important for adaptive social functioning and mental well-being.  It involves the ability to inhibit or modulate primary emotions to produce contextually appropriate emotions and behaviors. The neural networks underlying this regulatory process will be reviewed and discussed.  Particularly, interactions between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex are becoming of major interest in understanding the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia,...
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Feb 16, 2016 Don Saliers, Candler School of Theology
, Emory University
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This paper begins by setting out several important theories of how music is claimed to “express” human emotions.  An inevitable comparison follows with how human emotions are linguistically constituted and expressed.   This, in turn, highlights the complexity of musical “syntax” and “grammar”  as well as the limits of language—or at least the limits of “cognitive” theories of emotion. Contrasting examples of music will be drawn from Bach, Copeland and Art Tatum’s jazz...
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Feb 16, 2016 Emory College, Emory Center for Mind, Brain and Culture (CMBC)
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Emotional Regulation Discussion
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Feb 16, 2016 Laura Otis, Department of English, 
Emory University
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Some human emotions are so unloved that few people admit to feeling them. In Western cultures, these include self-pity, resentment, spite, hate, envy, and grudge-bearing. Metaphors for these “banned” emotions reveal their grounding in bodily sensations and postures. At the same time, religious and political beliefs have shaped the ways that these unsavory emotions are represented. To offer insight into the merging forces of culture and physiology, this presentation examines metaphors for...
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Feb 16, 2016 Jim Rilling, Department of Anthropology, 
Program in Neuroscience
, Emory University
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In a now classic 1971 paper, Robert Trivers proposed that many human social emotions evolved in response to the need to negotiate relationships based on reciprocal altruism, which were likely crucial to the survival of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. In the same paper, he argued that the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma game could serve as a model for relationships based on reciprocal altruism. Over the past 15 years, our lab has utilized the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma game paradigm in...
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Feb 16, 2016 Philippe Rochat, Department of Psychology, 
Emory University
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Self-consciousness and self-conscious emotions are hallmark characteristics of human psychology, a gift and curse from Nature. It is a gift because it allows us to be incomparably creative. It is a curse because it determines uncanny conscious experiences such as the inescapable awareness of impending self-disappearance (death).  I will argue that the fear of separation and the basic affiliation need we share with other animals is for us combined with unmatched preoccupations with reputation,...
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Feb 16, 2016 Stephan Hamman, Department of Psychology
, Emory University
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Neuroimaging and other neuroscience approaches have generated a wealth of new findings about the brain correlates of emotion, for example, changes in brain activity patterns corresponding to variations in emotion intensity and type. Such evidence is playing an increasingly important role in debates about the nature and organization of emotion, for example, whether emotions are best represented by a discrete set of emotions such as fear and anger, and the extent to which dedicated,...
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Feb 16, 2016 Emory College, Emory Center for Mind, Brain and Culture (CMBC)
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Feb 16, 2016 Melvin Konner, Department of Anthropology, 
Emory University
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Konner will argue, as he did at length in Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy (Norton, 2015), that a current consensus of neural and neuroendocrine research, in the context of neodarwinian sexual selection and phylogenetic, cross-cultural, historical, and psychological perspectives, now suggests that sex differences in some behaviors (notably violence and driven sexuality) and their underlying emotions and motivations require a partly biological explanation. There are...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Feb 16, 2016 Paul Thagard, Department of Philosophy, 
Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience
, University of Waterloo
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Is love a judgment, a body process, or a cultural interpretation?  Emotion theorists dispute whether emotions are cognitive appraisals, responses to physiological changes, or social constructions.   That emotions are all of these can be grasped by identifying brain mechanisms for emotions, including representation by groups of spiking neurons, binding of representations into semantic pointers, and competition among semantic pointers.   Semantic pointers are patterns of firing in groups of...
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Feb 16, 2016 Andrea Scarantino, Philosophy and Neuroscience Institute, Georgia State University
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(February 11, 2016)
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Feb 16, 2016 Emory College, Emory Center for Mind, Brain and Culture (CMBC)
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Feb 16, 2016 Emory College, Emory Center for Mind, Brain and Culture (CMBC)
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Theories and Models of Emotion Discussion (February 11, 2016)
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Feb 16, 2016 Emory College, Emory Center for Mind, Brain and Culture (CMBC)
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Feb 16, 2016 Joseph LeDoux, Department of Neuroscience
, New York University
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Research on Pavlovian fear conditioning has been very successful in revealing what has come to be called the “fear system” of the brain.  The field has now matured to the point where a sharper conceptualization of what is being studied could be very useful as we go forward. Terms like “fear conditioning” and “fear system” blur the distinction between processes that give rise to conscious feelings of fear and non-conscious processes that control defense responses elicited by...
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Feb 16, 2016 Paul Root Wolpe, Emory Center for Ethics; 
Department of Medicine, Emory School of Medicine; 
Sociology, Emory University
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Scholarship taking place in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience have begun to illuminate the complex relationship between the emotional and intellectual contributions to our moral thought and behavior.  However, the assumptions often made in the West – that ethical decision-making should be primarily an intellectual exercise, and that emotional contributions are suspect at best and corrupting at worst should be questioned.  The Dalai Lama, for example, has proffered a system he calls...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Feb 16, 2016 Robyn Fivush, Department of Psychology, 
Emory University
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In this presentation, I describe a feminist sociocultural model of autobiographical memory that provides a framework for understanding how gender and emotion are mutually constructed within everyday reminiscing about the personal past. Autobiographical narratives both reflect and create representations of what happened and what it means for the individual in terms of understanding self, others, and relationships.  In particular, emotional expression within autobiographical narratives carries...
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Feb 16, 2016 Emory College, Emory Center for Mind, Brain and Culture (CMBC)
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Feb 16, 2016 Jim Grimsley, Department of Creative Writing
, Emory University
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The phenomenon of trigger warnings, intended to help guide students in dealing with the emotions raised by difficult or provocative works of art, indicates the ability of artistic works to raise powerful and even cathartic feelings in members of the audience. The author will discuss the use and abuse of these warnings in relation to works of fiction. (February 12, 2016)
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Dec 4, 2015 George Graham, Department of Philosophy and Neuroscience Institute, Georgia State University
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Normal self-consciousness typically includes the compelling sense that my own experiences belong to me – one person, one whole and unified center of consciousness. That common and compelling feature of wholeness and distinctness often is lost or broken in certain experiences in schizophrenia as well as in mystical or religious experiences. The experience of self-consciousness or self-awareness in schizophrenia often is constituted by dramatic breakdowns in the experience of the self or...
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Dec 4, 2015 Ellen Bialystok, Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto
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A growing body of research points to a significant effect of bilingualism on cognitive outcomes across the lifespan. The main finding is evidence for the enhancement of executive control at all stages in the lifespan, with the most dramatic results being maintained cognitive performance in elderly adults and protection against the onset of dementia. These results shed new light on the question of how cognitive and linguistic systems interact in the mind and brain. I will review evidence from...
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Nov 17, 2015 Gordon Berman, Biology, Emory University
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Animals perform a complex array of behaviors, from changes in body posture to vocalizations to other dynamic outputs. Far from being a disordered collection of actions, however, there is thought to be an intrinsic structure to the set of behaviors and their temporal and functional organization. In this talk, I will introduce a novel method for mapping the behavioral space of organisms. This method relies only upon the underlying structure of postural movement data to organize and classify...
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Nov 17, 2015 Dimitris Xygalatas, Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut
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Ritual is a puzzling aspect of behavior, as it involves obvious expenditures of effort, energy and resources without equally obvious payoffs. Evolutionary theorists have long proposed that such costly behaviors would not have survived throughout human history unless they conveyed certain benefits to their practitioners. But what might those benefits be, and how can they be operationalised and measured? This talk will present a series of studies that combined laboratory and field methods to...
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Nov 17, 2015 David Poeppel, Max Planck Institute, Frankfurt Main; and Department of Psychology and Neural Science, New York University
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I discuss two new studies that focus on general questions about the cognitive science and neural implementation of speech and language. I come to (currently) unpopular conclusions about both domains. Based on a first set of experiments, using fMRI and exploiting the temporal statistics of speech, I argue for the existence of a speech-specific processing stage that implicates a particular neuronal substrate that has the appropriate sensitivity and selectivity for speech (Overath et al. 2015)....
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Nov 17, 2015 Phillip Carter, Department of Linguistics, Florida International University
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In 1993, Time magazine dubbed Miami “the Capital of Latin America.” At the time, Miami’s Hispanic / Latino population was at roughly 50% and was overwhelmingly Cuban-origin. In the ensuing two decades, Miami’s Hispanic / Latino population has continued to grow, reaching 65% in Miami-Dade County and 78% in the City of Miami in 2010. At the same time, the Cuban-origin share has fallen to below 50%. Both of these developments owe to the economic and political crises in Latin America in the...
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Nov 17, 2015 Phil Wolff, Psychology, Emory University
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Advancements in machine learning and data mining have already led to amazing breakthroughs in the natural sciences, including the unlocking of the human genome and the detection of subatomic particles. Such techniques promise to wield a similar impact on the study of mind. In my talk I will discuss how the large-scale structure of the human mental lexicon, roughly 50,000 words, can be recovered from billions of words at a level of resolution that includes the differentiation of word senses....
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Nov 17, 2015 Lena Ting, Biomedical Engineering, Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology
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Neuromechanical principles define the properties and problems that shape neural solutions for movement. Although the theoretical and experimental evidence is debated, I will present arguments for consistent modular structures in motor patterns that are neuromechanical solutions for movement particular to an individual and shaped by evolutionary, developmental, and learning processes. NEUROSCIENCE WORKSHOP: Dimensionality Reduction Friday, October 30, 2015 Saturday, October 31, 2015
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Nov 17, 2015 Benjamin Reiss, Department of English, Emory University; and David Rye, Department of Neurology, Emory University School of Medicine
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We will discuss our collaboration as co-teachers of a course called "Sleep in Science and Culture" and our consultations with each other since. We aim to show how a discussion between disciplines can help define what is normal and what is pathological, and the consequences of making those distinctions. (September 29, 2015)
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Nov 17, 2015 Steve Vaisey, Department of Sociology, Duke University
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In recent years, cultural sociologists have grown increasingly interested in psychology and some influential psychologists (e.g., Oishi et al 2009; Haidt 2012) have argued for closer connections to sociological theory and research. In this talk, I will outline some past and current work in which I have attempted to create bridges between sociology and psychology. I will also consider some concrete ways to improve interdisciplinary research on morality. (September 3, 2015) Sponsored by the...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Nov 17, 2015 Jennifer Mascaro, Department of Anthropology, Emory University; and Carol Worthman, Department of Anthropology, Emory University
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Anthropology has a long history of investigating human variation with the goal of understanding the genetic, environmental, and epigenetic sources of variation existing within and between human populations. Yet the field has historically focused on variation from the neck down. In this discussion we identify inherent challenges to understanding the varieties of mental experience and explore several of the latest methodological advances that have helped researchers better address questions of...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Nov 17, 2015 Chris Martin, Department of Sociology, Emory University
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In psychology (e.g., Schooler, 2011) and other fields (e.g., Jennions & Møller, 2001), there are reported cases of effect sizes declining over time. Later studies of a given phenomenon report smaller effect sizes than earlier studies. This decline suggests a publication bias toward large effects and regression to the mean. In the current study, we examine whether evidence exists for such a decline effect. In Study 1, we analyzed 3,488 effect sizes across 70 meta-analytic tables, which were...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Nov 17, 2015 Chris Rozell, Bioengineering and Data Signal Processing, Georgia Institute of Technology
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The engineering and applied math communities often exploit the fact that natural stimuli have significant structure that lends itself well to dimensionality reduction. The efficient coding hypothesis for sensory neural coding postulates that stages of neural processing should sequentially make the representations more efficient by removing stimulus redundancies, and this is often expressed in the language of information theory. In this talk I will present our work exploring efficient coding...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Nov 17, 2015 Joe Kable, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
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People often choose larger future rewards over smaller immediate ones, but then abandon that choice before the future reward arrives. Examples include starting a diet but then not sticking to it, quitting smoking but then relapsing, and most new year's resolutions. Psychologists often explain such behavior by reference to fundamental limitations in human cognitive systems, such as limited willpower or self-control. I will argue for an alternative explanation, in which the failure to persist...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Nov 17, 2015 Byron Yu, Biomedical Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
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Most sensory, cognitive, and motor functions rely on the interaction among many neurons. To analyze the activity of many neurons together, many groups are now adopting advanced statistical methods, such as dimensionality reduction. In this talk, I will first describe how dimensionality reduction can be used in a closed-loop experimental setting to understand how learning is shaped by the underlying neural circuitry. Then, I will describe a novel latent variable model that extracts a subject's...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 1, 2015 Chris Eliasmith, Department of Philosophy, University of Waterloo
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There has recently been an international surge of interest in building large brain models. The European Union's Human Brain Project (HBP) has received 1 billion euros worth of funding, and President Obama announced the Brain Initiative along with a similar level of funding. However the large scale models affiliated with both projects do not demonstrate how their generated complex neural activity relates to observable behaviour -- arguably the central challenge for neuroscience. I will present...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 1, 2015 Pascal Boyer, Henry Luce Professor of Individual and Collective Memory, Washington University in St. Louis
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Why is there some “religious stuff” in all human societies? A tempting answer is that religions are somehow grounded in evolved properties of human minds. Recently, some have even suggested that religion could have been selected for ensuring large-scale cooperation and prosocial behavior. Considering the empirical evidence leads to a more sober understanding of the evolutionary processes underpinning the emergence and spread of religious concepts and norms. The term “religion”...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 1, 2015 Dieter Jaeger, Department of Biology, and Phil Wolff, Department of Psychology, Emory University
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The time seems right to rethink how the fields of cognitive psychology and computational neuroscience could take advantage of each other. Both fields make use of quantitative models, one of cognitive processes the other of brain processes. Since the brain ultimately supports cognitive processes one should think these levels of description should merge. Interestingly that has largely not happened yet. We will discuss possible approaches and areas of content where such overlap might become...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 1, 2015 Bradd Shore, Department of Anthropology, Emory University
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Few would contest the claim that Shakespeare was a great poet and playwright. Less indisputable, perhaps, is the notion that he was also a great social theorist. By this, I'm not referring to theory in the weak sense of occasional philosophically nuanced comments by characters, or speeches with philosophical overtones. I mean that Shakespeare was a social theorist in the strong sense that, in addition to being powerful stories, his plays often are extended reflections on many of the classic...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 1, 2015 Mark Moffett, Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History; Visiting Scholar, Department of Human Evolution, Harvard University
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An essential feature of any society is the capacity of its members to distinguish one another from outsiders and reject outsiders on that basis. Some social insects and humans are able to form huge societies because their membership is anonymous—members aren’t required to distinguish all the other members as individuals for the society to remain unified. Societies are instead bonded by shared identity cues and signals, such as society-specific odors in ants and learned social labels in...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 1, 2015 Ann Bradlow, Department of Linguistics, Northwestern University
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The language(s) that we know shape the way we process and represent the speech that we hear. Since real-world speech recognition almost always takes place in conditions that involve some sort of background noise, we can ask whether the influence of linguistic knowledge and experience on speech processing extends to the particular challenges posed by speech-in-noise recognition, specifically the perceptual separation of speech from background noise (Experiment Series 1) and the cognitive...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Apr 1, 2015 Hazel Gold, Department of Spanish & Portuguese, and Angelika Bammer, Institute for Liberal Arts, Emory University
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Collective memory—sometimes referred to as public memory, or social (or cultural) memory—is a term commonly used in the humanities. It posits the act of remembering as ineluctably linked to what the French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs (who is credited with elaborating the concept) called the “social frameworks” of memory such as family, class, ethnic, national or religious communities. Within these social frameworks, an individual’s recollection of events is shaped by the shared...
Center for Mind, Brain and Culture
Dec 28, 2014 Dan Reynolds, 
Department of Film & Media Studies, and 
Marshall Duke
, Department of Psychology
, Emory University
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Some things are easier to mix together than others.  There is the proverbial problem of mixing oil and water, but then there is also the smooth blending of coffee and cream.  Bringing together students from film studies and psychology in order to study theory of mind might best be described as midway between these extremes—for us the best metaphor is peanut butter and chocolate—not always easy to integrate, but the result is well worth it (as the Reese’s candy folks have shown).
 In...